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Research Abstracts Online
January 2009 - March 2010

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences
Medical School
Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development

PI: Laura S. Gammill

Neural Crest Genes in Craniofacial Development

Cell migration is a highly coordinated process fundamental to both normal development and cancer. To elucidate molecular mechanisms of cell migration, these researchers study a developmental migratory stem cell type, the neural crest. Neural crest cells form surprisingly diverse structures in animals with backbones and are abnormal in a variety of common birth defects and cancers. Drawing on an expression profile of genes upregulated as neural crest cells become migratory, the group is working to understand how neural crest migration is initiated and coordinated at the molecular level. Through functional studies in chick and mouse embryos, they are examining the requirement for candidate neural crest regulatory factors. They are particularly interested in the role of post-translational modifications that alter protein activity as neural crest cells initiate migration, and have implicated a putative phosphatase and protein methylation in neural crest migration. They use resources at the CGL to analyze and assemble the sequence of genes and constructs used in their experiments using DNAStar.

Group Members

Corinne Alinea Fairchild, Graduate Student
Bridget Jacques-Fricke, Research Associate
Julaine Roffers-Agarwal, Research Associate
Katie Vermillion, Graduate Student